Home, Sweet Shipping Container

Home, Sweet Shipping Container

CBS Sunday Morning presented Home, Sweet Shipping Container, a story about shipping container homes yesterday. It wasn’t my imagination that it sounded familiar. It was originally broadcast May 22, 2022.

In 2016 Zack and Brie Smithey built their dream home in St. Charles, Missouri: a 3BR, 2.5 bath, 3,000 sq. ft., two-story structure made out of eight shipping containers. Now, they’re helping other people build container homes. Correspondent Luke Burbank talks with homeowners who refuse to be boxed into traditional notions of home construction.


Zack and Brie Smithey’s project has been covered by other sources. They built their house using eight 40-foot containers with nine-foot-high ceilings.

Zach Smithey told Curbed, “We paid $1,600 for each, and $375 to have each of them delivered, so they ended up being about $2,000 apiece. The whole project cost us about $135,000.”

You can read the article and see a lot of photos.

A 3,100-square-foot, $135K container house lets its owners live mortgage free
Missouri couple makes an affordable, recycled home out of shipping containers
By Mary Jo Bowling Sep 11, 2017, 10:00am EDT

This article documents some of the building process, including some of the problems they ran into.

When the Smitheys began their project, the city of St Charles had no laws in place to prevent them from building a container home. However, as the red units were assembled, they began to turn heads… Sadly, the city ended up passing ordinances that made it almost impossible for anyone in the future to follow in Zack and Brie’s footsteps.

This couple live mortgage-free in the shipping container home they built
These first-time homebuilders created a metal masterpiece

This video shows inside and some of the construction.

What other costs were involved?

Grading was needed before they even got started. Then they put in an 11-foot concrete foundation. The home is built on a walk-out basement. They needed a crane to stack the containers. Although the couple were able to do much of the work themselves. They had to pay contractors for the plumbing, electric and HVAC.

They used a lot of secondhand and recycled materials, but there were still a lot of construction materials to buy. They also comment on how difficult it is to cut the thick metal.

It took them just a little over a year and they learned a lot along the way. They now offer design and consultation on container structures.

Zack Smithey and his wife, Brie built their 3100 square foot home out of eight 40-foot shipping containers that traveled around the world 12 times on a boat, train, and truck before coming to rest as the structure of the Smithey’s home in St. Charles, MO. The Smithey’s say they have no desire to “fit in”, and believe that being different is a positive trait.

Smithey offers design and consultation services on container structures. He has designed and consulted on many projects throughout the US since building his in 2017. The Smithey’s are featured on Netflix, and has been featured in CURBED, Insider Lifestyle, At Home, KSDK, to name a few!


Google shows what the lot looked like before they started. This is the view from August, 2012.

By December 2016 you can see the house under construction.

This is what the house looked like by May 2019.

At one point there was brick…

By July 2021 it looks like the house on CBS News.

Which is what it still looks like when the Google Maps car drove by last on July 2022. Here you can see the house in it’s setting, with the other more typical houses around it.